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Q&A With History & Politics’ Dr. Kelly Joyce

October 10, 2012 —

Kelly Joyce

Dr. Kelly Joyce

Dr. Kelly Joyce
Professor, Department of History & Politics
Director, Science, Technology and Society program

Hometown: Oak Bluffs, MA
Degree: Ph.D. Sociology, Boston College
Research Interests: My research investigates the cultural, economic, political, and institutional dimensions of medicine, science and technology. In my previous scholarship, I conducted a sociological analysis of MRI technology. I have also studied issues related to aging, science, and technology.

My current research focuses on autoimmune disease. In this project, I examine the stakeholders who created and mobilized the category autoimmunity, people’s experiences of living with these varied illnesses, and the technologies used to measure environmental exposure in relation to autoimmune illnesses.


Q: What did you do before coming to Drexel?
A: I was an associate professor of sociology and the Dean of Undergraduate Studies at the College of William and Mary.

Q: What is your favorite vacation destination?
A: The northeast coast of Maine.

Q: What was the last restaurant you went to?
A: Vedge, 1221 Locust Street, Philadelphia.

Q: What excites you most about Drexel?
A: Drexel is a university on the move. When I talk with people, they describe Drexel as nimble, eclectic, creative, community-centered, and transformative. I am looking forward to working here. The commitment to excellence in research and teaching, and in cultivating strong community ties with Philadelphia and the surrounding areas, is electrifying.

Q: What course would you be most excited to teach at Drexel and why?
A: I’d like to teach a course on the experience of illness. Such a class takes up the social dimensions of illness, covering everything from how society expects us to behave when sick, to how age, gender, and ethnicity shape how people approach illness, to how insurance policies impact treatment practices. We will all get sick or have someone in our life who becomes ill at some point in our lives. This class provides the room to think critically about how society shapes the experience of illness so that when someone is actually in the situation of managing an illness they are aware of social scripts and biases.

Q: What’s one thing every student who plans on taking one of your classes should know about you?
A: Be prepared and be willing to participate. Class discussions are important in my courses; a good discussion requires that students come to class with the assignments done and be ready to engage the material and each other.

Q: What are three books on your coffee table?
A: The Interventionists: User’s Manual for the Creative Disruption of Everyday Life; Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar; Remarkable Trees of Virginia.

Q: What do you hope to add to the CoAS community?
A: I’ve been brought in to build the Science, Technology and Society [STS] program. The STS program offers faculty and students the opportunity to study the social dimensions of science, technology and medicine. Given how important science and technology issues are in contemporary society and Drexel’s role as a leader in science and tech, Drexel is a great place for an STS program. I am looking forward to collaborating with colleagues and students in this effort.


See Dr. Kelly Joyce in action: CoAS Dean’s Seminar Series: “Classifying Bodies, Classifying Illness: Tracing the Creation of Autoimmune Disease,” Wednesday, October 31, 2012, 3:30-5:00PM, Disque 109.

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